UniTech and Exelon Pilot Tool and Equipment Management, RFID Chipping Programs

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So far in 2017, UniTech has worked with Exelon on two exciting projects that significantly cut costs and help fulfill the Nuclear Promise.

Tool & Equipment Management

Now more than ever, nuclear facilities must reduce and eliminate unused, left-behind material from past projects. Still, nuclear fleets spend millions of dollars each year on new tools and equipment to support site operations and outage work, in part because previously used tools may be difficult to locate, or because their contamination status is unclear. Loaded trailers, containers and FRAC tanks sit idle over time. Warehouses, basements and designated storage areas overflow with loosely tracked tools and equipment.

As staff sizes reduce, the opportunity to inventory, assess, decontaminate and reuse items decreases too. Conversely, radwaste liability and spending on new tools and equipment increase, creating a vicious cycle.

UniTech has developed a Tool and Equipment Management (TEM) service to help nuclear fleets achieve 30 percent cost reduction despite on-site challenges. The TEM service will utilize UniTech’s Off-Site Decontamination & Recycling Program to manage tools and equipment for reuse and final disposition. UniTech’s TEM service is designed to:

  • Reduce new tool spending, radwaste spending, raw materials, and liability
  • Reduce labor costs for locating tools, reduce overall inventory of tools and free up storage space
  • Improve radiological safety, reuse items, ease ordering processes and promote fleet-wide sharing

UniTech’s new tool and equipment management service will account for scaffolding, frac tanks, lead-wool blankets, as well as miscellaneous tools and equipment.

Exelon recently piloted the new TEM service at LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station. UniTech decontaminated and inventoried the tools and equipment post-outage, cataloged them in a digital database and then organized them into usable groups agreed upon in a pre-outage meeting. Each tool cabinet was visually marked with an inventory of its contents. Tools and equipment were then returned to LaSalle for reissuance, and the digital database was shared with department reps.

Based on the success of the pilot and fleet-wide cost projections, the service will yield an initial fleet-wide savings of $4 million on legacy material, with an additional savings of roughly $1 million each year.

UniTech is projecting to recover 30 percent of tools and equipment that would otherwise need to be repurchased. Obsolete items will be sold for shared scrap value.
Permanent disposition and its accompanying high costs are no longer the only clean-up option. This program helps fulfill the Nuclear Promise. Through TEM, Exelon can achieve demonstrable savings during outages.

With TEM, a facility’s tools and equipment will always be readily available. UniTech will maintain organized storage units during non-outage periods.

RFID Chipping

UniTech has collaborated with Datamars and Innovative Management Designs in a joint effort to provide a new inventory control solution to Exelon’s LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station. Using RFID technology, we are helping LaSalle manage HEPA vacuum cleaners and 3M™ PAPR systems, ultimately improving inventory control processes, promoting safety and significantly cutting costs.

With this initiative, RFID tags are applied to all HEPA vacuum cleaners onsite. LaSalle personnel now scan all HEPA vacuums in storage with a handheld,
Bluetooth-connected RFID gun to gain valuable information about calibration, testing and maintenance needs. Properly inventorying and maintaining HEPA vacuums can lead to substantial savings over time.

At LaSalle, it was noted that a number of 3M™ PAPR blower units were inadvertently slated for disposition with radioactive waste materials. To prevent such potential problems, UniTech applied RFID tags to all blower units and installed RFID detectors on the doorways leading to waste trailers. If blower units pass through the doorway in a bag of radioactive waste, an alarm will sound and emit a red flashing light. This new method of tracking PAPR blower units was successfully implemented throughout LaSalle’s February outage. We are in the process of expanding our RFID offerings to include the control of access and operation of high radiation areas throughout nuclear sites. Keys to high radiation areas will be easily RFID-tagged and inventoried.

During this project at LaSalle, UniTech, Datamars and Innovative Management Designs worked closely with Exelon to integrate the RFID technology in compliance with Exelon’s IT and cybersecurity needs.

Overall, RFID technology has proven to be a viable solution for meeting LaSalle’s difficult inventory control, safety and cost prevention challenges. In-depth information on RFID implementation will be presented at UniTech R3 Nuclear Workshop.

To learn more about UniTech’s TEM or RFID Chipping programs, contact your account representative or call Gregg Johnstone at 413-543-6911 x 146.